Racial Stereotypes and Memory
Although there has been much debate about whether race has a biological or social basis, the bottom line is that race is a psychological reality for many people. That is, many folks assign other individuals to racial categories based on their appearance, and then make assumptions about them.
But racial stereotyping goes beyond classifying people into groups. When a group is assigned a negative stereotype, individuals that exhibit more of the physical characteristics identified with that group suffer more discrimination.
For example, in a recent study, participants were asked to read one of four news articles about a hypothetical African American man. The first story was about a professor receiving an award. The second was about an athlete, a role stereotypically linked to African Americans. The third was about a white-collar criminal and the fourth about a violent criminal. No matter which story they read, all participants saw the same photo of the man.